No one can begin by being perfect.
Myshkin in The Idiot (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1868)

What do you edit?

I specialise in academic texts in film and television studies, and in the humanities and social sciences in general. I've edited (and written) many different types of document over the years, from abstracts and proposals to dissertations, theses and books.

Most of the work I do is for academic presses and authors, but I'm glad to hear from independent writers, whether professional or amateur – and if your book, newsletter, website or whatever is not something I feel qualified to edit, I will happily refer you to an editor with the proper credentials.

What services do you offer?

The bulk of the work I do is copy-editing. I also offer a proofreading service. If you're unfamiliar with the specifics of copy-editing and proofreading, please read on for an overview.

Both copy-editing and proofreading involve checking the text for errors and ambiguities, and correcting them (or suggesting possible solutions to the author). Copy-editing, though, is carried out before proofreading in the publication process: it is the first external edit of a manuscript, and as such often involves substantial adjustments in grammar and phrasing, as well as smaller changes to standardise spellings, hyphenation, references, and so on. Once the copy-edit is finished, the pages are sent to a designer to be 'typeset', that is, processed into something resembling the pages you see in published books. The typeset document is then sent to a proofreader, who performs another round of checks and makes the required (minor) corrections before passing it on to be printed or published online.

If you are looking to get a document edited before it is submitted to a journal or publishing house, say, then you require the services of a copy-editor, rather than a proofreader. If you hire me to copy-edit your work, you can expect me to do the following:

  • Correct errors of grammar and punctuation
  • Ensure consistency in spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation and styling of abbreviations and numbers
  • Standardise references
  • Eliminate redundancies, irrelevances and ambiguities
  • Point up or eliminate over-used words, needless repetition and structural awkwardness
  • Eliminate potentially offensive or outdated language
  • Correct mixed or inapt metaphors
  • Query ambiguous phrasings and anomalous details
  • Check that specialist terminology is defined, if necessary, and that definitions are not repeated needlessly
  • Check that lists, captions and tables are appropriately and consistently styled
  • Ensure consistency in paragraph and heading styles
  • Highlight factual inconsistencies and obvious errors
  • Identify material that you might need permission to use
  • Ensure that the text conforms to the style guide, if one is used
  • Typecode the document, if necessary

If you have a document that has already been edited and is just about complete, but needs to be checked for errors before it is sent to be printed, then you require the services of a proofreader. A proofreader will usually do the following:

  • Ensure consistency in spelling, hyphenation, capitalisation and styling of abbreviations and numbers
  • Check that references are consistently styled
  • Correct punctuation errors
  • Correct glaring grammatical errors
  • Correct bad word-breaks, if required
  • Get rid of 'widows' (short lines that precede a paragraph break and appear isolated at the top of the page) and 'orphans' (lines at the top of a paragraph that appear isolated at the bottom of a page), if required
  • Ensure that lists, captions, tables and headings are presented correctly and consistently
  • Check page, illustration and note sequencing
  • Check that headers and footers are correct
  • Ensure that all tables and illustrations are correctly sized and positioned
  • Check cross-references

You may not need me to perform all of the tasks listed. If this is the case, let me know; I will take your requirements into account when pricing your project.